January 20th 2022
During my lunch break in Centennial Park a few weeks ago, I asked God to show me what He desired of MI NSW in the coming months. He immediately brought my attention to two trees on either side of me. They had big sturdy, solid trunks and grew up to form a canopy over my head. I felt God say to my heart that The Kingdom of God is like these trees, each section represented the work of a different generation.
The big solid trunks represented the pioneering generations that have gone before us. They looked quite plain, not that glamorous, but impressive and strong. There they stood, faithfully supporting all that grew above them. Then came the branches. They started out very organised and grew straight up towards the sun. After pioneering comes structure. But then, something happened to the branches further up. They started to split, twist and turn in all different directions. It all looked a bit chaotic and honestly, quite inefficient! I asked God “What on earth happened here?” He explained that this generation was forced to manoeuvre and adapt to the shifting obstacles of their time.
He told me:
This is your generation.
After the weight of that word sunk in, I looked further up to see a stunning array of new leaves glowing in the sun. The leaves represented the fruit of the Kingdom and the glory of God displayed for every eye to see. God encouraged me not to worry about changes in direction or looking different to those who have gone before. In fact, each of us must adapt and manoeuvre through the obstacles, no matter how illogical and uncomfortable it feels. As we do, so long as we keep seeking the source and growing towards His light, we will find that others are adjusting and popping up alongside us.
God assured me:
It is I who produce fruit, and I can make fruit out of anything. However, be warned…
He then showed me one final branch. This branch had started off straight, but when all the others started twisting, this branch grew out parallel to the ground. The tip actually turned down as if it was reaching back to the trunk where it came from.
God told me very sternly:
Do not yearn for what was. Do not rely on the ways of days past. There is no longer fruit there.
And indeed, of all the branches on the tree, this was the only one without leaves. Now, for those of you who may be thinking I was just daydreaming, let me show you the passage God pointed me to a few days later when I was seeking Him for a word for our state team.
“Stop dwelling on past events and brooding over times gone by; I am doing something new; it’s springing up — can’t you see it?”[Isaiah 43:18-19 CJB]
I was also led to this article on transition moments later. I encourage you to read it as it highlights that change happens to us all, but transition is an intentional choice. Interesting how the first phase of transition requires letting go. Anyone who has undergone an international move to a new culture will relate to these phases. The neutral phase is often represented by culture shock I think! I honestly don't know what the coming days will bring us, but I know they will be ever-changing requiring us to continually choose our response. I hope we will choose to grow, adapt, and adjust our methods but from a position of confidence in our God who is as steady as a rock. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He has gone before every generation and produced fruit through every willing and faithful worker. We can take courage because we serve a mighty and dependable God!
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." [Hebrews 13:8 NIV]
Maxine Stuart is a Kingdom-Builder at heart with over twenty years of global ministry experience. Six of those years were as a missionary kid, so she has a deep understanding of the dynamics of global missions. She has gained first-hand perspectives of what it’s like to engage in missions as a sending body, a missionary, a missionary kid, and a member of the targeted people-group. Maxine has lived in 8 different countries across Asia, The Middle East, Europe and Australia. As a tent-making missionary, she has worked alongside local churches (large and small), missions agencies, and secular organisations. She has also trained and worked in the multimedia, education, administration, management, emergency medical services, and government sectors.
Maxine Stuart is our NSW State Ministry Leader.